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How do I Become a High School Counselor?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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The requirements to become a high school counselor can vary depending upon the state in which the person lives and wants to work. In the US, each state has different regulations and must be researched separately, and those planning to move from one state to another at some future point may need to fulfill additional requirements. Yet, there are still some broad strokes statements that can be made about the type of education needed for the person who would like to become a high school counselor.

First, most people should have an expectation of doing master’s degree level work before they can be certified in the state where they will work. Choices in a bachelor’s degree program can vary. Some people recommend getting a four-year degree in education, in psychology, in social work, or in sociology. Any of these degrees might help easily transition the person who wants to become a high school counselor to master’s level work. Psychology or social work may be best choices, but the most practical suggestion is to look at master’s programs in school counseling and determine the minimum requirements for getting into one. Choose undergraduate majors that are mostly likely to garner favor when it comes to applying to graduate school.

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There are a number of different names under which high school counselor or school counselor master’s programs could be offered. These include student services, school counseling, student development, and student personnel services. In some states, degrees in psychology or child psychology may be acceptable. Alternately, some school counselors may possess an Ed.D, but this degree is doctorate level, takes much longer to earn, and might require possession of a masters in one of the aforementioned fields.

Principally, the main thing people should look for in a major and program is that it focuses on how counseling operates in the school environment, and though students may want to become a high school counselor, they usually will be required to learn about counseling all levels of students.

Another thing that is important about school choice at the master’s level is the issue of state requirements. People are typically better served by getting their masters or doctorate in the state in which they plan to work. This is one of way of making certain that the school will most support the requirements needed for attaining post graduate training, licensure, and/or credentialing. On the other hand, sometimes a program elsewhere is too tempting to resist. In this case, discuss the school with the state licensing agency to see which things might need to be added to a program to make it complete. People can always pursue licensing in several states too.

Usually there is some supervised work that must take place after a master’s degree is finished and before credentialing is granted. This can vary. Some people recommend getting a “counseling/therapy” degree, which usually requires about 3000 hours of supervised practice prior to being licensed to counsel people. Most often, those who want to become a high school counselor do not need to fulfill this requirement and can work without it because the fields of therapy and high school counseling are viewed as somewhat different directionally.

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anon289298
Post 3

Can I become a high school guidance counselor with a sociology bachelor's degree from SUNY Geneseo? Where should I go after that?

surfNturf
Post 2

Cafe41- I think if you learn how to become a high school guidance counselor you can also helped troubled teens that succumb to drug or alcohol abuse or even teen pregnancy issues.

Becoming a high school counselor really is a calling that helps kids make the best of their future.

Guidance counselors help kids determine what course of study they should take on and what potential scholarships are available. A great counselor can really help out a child focus on their future.

cafe41
Post 1

Becoming a high school guidance counselor is a really rewarding job. Helping high school students to shape their future is really powerful.

In order to learn how to become a high school counselor you really have to have a Master’s degree in guidance counseling.

In my children’s school a guidance counselor is assigned to each child since the 6th grade so that they could successfully plan the right course load for the area that they would like to major in college.

So many guidance counselors may even work with middle school kids as well.

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